Freethought Today · Vol. 27 No. 7 September 2010

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard: September 2010

Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out . . . It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious and deservedly infamous group. For 10 years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else. I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life.
Author Anne Rice, online announcement, 7-28-10

Quitting Christianity for Christ’s sake puts Rice in colorful company. It was Nietzsche, after all, who insisted that “the last Christian died on the cross,” but only because he thought Jesus’ teachings so incoherent that no one could follow them in any meaningful way.
Tom Flynn, Free Inquiry editor
Washington Post, 8-3-10

To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?
Christopher Hitchens, 61, “Topic of Cancer”
Vanity Fair, September 2010

The entity making such a remark might be a raving, terrified person whose cancer has spread to the brain. I can’t guarantee that such an entity wouldn’t make such a ridiculous remark, but no one recognizable as myself would ever make such a remark.
Christopher Hitchens, on speculation he’ll publicly “get religion” before he dies
The Atlantic, 8-9-10

As for the few of you who wrote to Goldblog to say they were praying for Hitch’s death, I can say that he does not care one way or another what you do or think or pray, but on behalf of myself and the entire team here at The Atlantic, let me just say: Go fuck yourselves.
Correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg
The Atlantic, 8-9-10

[The church] exists for the clergy. The clergy exist for the clergy. It exists for them in the here and now, and they will promise you a sweet afterlife if you will only support them in this one.
“Debaser,” commenting on “Catholic Diocese Sued Over Suicide of Abuse Victim”, 8-3-10

I like the idea very much, although I would prefer to call it a freethinking free school. I would never want to indoctrinate children in atheism, any more than in religion. Instead, children should be taught to ask for evidence, to be skeptical, critical, open-minded.
Richard Dawkins, on a new British law, opposed by teachers unions, making it easier for schools to become academies not subject to local control
U.K. Press Association, 7-28-10

Two paragraphs into the book, it was like a seed crystal — it was logic.
Brights co-founder Mynga Futrell, on reading Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian
Colorado Springs Independent, 8-12-10

Two centuries of American democracy have come to this — a de facto religious test for the highest office in the land. That’s why many people, believers and nonbelievers alike, pray for a sincere skeptic in the White House. An agnostic or an atheist would have the latitude and political freedom to tell our nation’s ayatollahs to go to hell.
Columnist Tony Norman, “No need for president to have religion”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8-24-10

Is there a place for prayer in city council (government) meetings?
Yes 16.2% (645 votes)
No 82.5% (3,289 votes)
I don’t care 1.4% (55 votes) online poll
Wichita Eagle, 7-20-10

Because there is also a difference between what you can do and what you should do. For instance, you can build a Catholic church next to a playground. Should you?
Senior religion correspondent John Oliver, on the ground zero mosque controversy
“The Daily Show,” 8-16-10

Now that only 6% of British people regularly attend a religious service, it’s only natural that we should dismantle the massive amounts of tax money and state power that are automatically given to the religious to wield over the rest of us. It’s a necessary process of building a secular state, where all citizens are free to make up their own minds.
Journalist Johanna Hari
GQ Magazine, September 2010

Keeping religion immune from criticism is both unwarranted and dangerous. Unless we are willing to expose religious irrationality whenever it arises, we will encourage irrational public policy and promote ignorance over education for our children.
Physicist Lawrence Krauss, on a poll showing only 45% of U.S. respondents agree that “human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals”
Scientific American, August 2010

How would the Scottish seafood industry fare if the biblical ban on shellfish were to be enforced? Would Shetland’s knitwear industry flourish if there was a ban on garments made from two kinds of material, as required in the bible?
Terry Sanderson, National Secular Society president, on a plan requiring Scotland’s judges to consult the bible in all cases
The Herald, 8-16-10

Do we — Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists — desire to be loving, kind, generous and courageous on our own? Or are the good deeds motivated, in part, by our fear of that haunting “roll call up yonder.” Maybe that’s why atheists and agnostics irritate some folks. They don’t always seem to be running scared to hop on the gospel train.
Columnist Dannye Romine Powell, on readers’ negative reaction to another writer’s piece on local freethinkers
Charlotte [N.C.] Observer, 8-3-10

I am a nonbeliever. There is no god, there is no Jesus, there is no Satan.
Bernalillo County [N.M.] Deputy Sheriff Jim Goff, trying to get Christian demonstrators to leave a protest outside a Rob Zombie concert
KRQE/Albuquerque, 7-25-10

The fear, the confusion, the misery, the self-reproach were palpable. These are scared and confused people groping for anything to make a maddeningly and frustratingly complex world intelligible. So they grasp for a simple answer, a book they believe is infallible and has all the answers. But it only leads them into the throes of fear and hatred. What originally began as songs of love and sacrifice quickly rot into gay-bashing and the dangerous, yet indistinct talk of enemies everywhere. The room began to take on the darkness of Arthur Miller’s “Crucible” more than the enlightenment of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.
Reporter Matthew Harwood, at a Call 2 Fall service July 4 at a full-gospel church in Virginia
The [U.K.] Guardian, 7-20-10
Thanks to the slick, if not sick, public relations efforts by Sam’s fundamentalist fans, the murderer now has his own little kingdom. His followers have set up a fancy website featuring an array of DVDs and CDs and a book of his prison journals, Son of Hope. Who knew the whole “saved slasher” genre would be so popular?
Wayne Besen, Truth Wins Out founder, on David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz’s prison conversion to Christianity
Huffington Post, 7-23-10
They exist for two reasons: To push a conservative agenda and to gain attorney fees, to make money. Do I think that there is a hidden agenda? Yes.
Dennis Eichelbaum, Frisco, Texas, school law attorney, on the Liberty Institute
Dallas Morning News, 7-24-10

I understand that this prayer may have been posted in the auditorium for a long time. However, the crucial protections of the Bill of Rights have been around even longer.
Steve Brown, Rhode Island ACLU executive director, on a religious banner in a public high school gym
Fox News, 7-23-10

A free society must tolerate such groups. It need not subsidize them, give them its official imprimatur, or grant them equal access to law school facilities.
Justice John Paul Stevens, concurring in a Supreme Court decision which stopped the Christian Legal Society from discriminating against gays at a California law school
New York Times, 6-29-10

We would like to see a neutrality by the government with respect to its interaction with religion. We are concerned that recent government policy is in fact favoring the religious viewpoint. Another big concern of ours is the amount of tax concessions that the religious organizations receive.
Secular Party candidate Kenneth Cooke, a radiologist running for the Australian Parliament
The Manly Daily, 8-2-10
It’s so nice to be able to say something without looking over your shoulder. I love these people.
Jim Craig, on getting together with Charlotte Atheists & Agnostics
Charlotte Observer, 8-1-10

I cringe when I see these headlines that this was a miracle. We as engineers and scientists don’t believe that this is a miracle. We are totally convinced that the work that we did in the 1980s has proven its value.
John Hickey, Federal Aviation Administration deputy safety chief, on the survival of 130 passengers (one died of a heart attack) when a jet broke into three pieces landing on the Caribbean island of San Andrés
USA Today, 8-18-10

Sometimes it’s only after your fourth DUI and your fifth divorce that you begin to realize that the betrayal you experienced as a kid continues to impact your life on a daily basis. That’s one reason why victims can’t come forward quickly.
David Clohessy, director, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Greensboro [N.C.] News & Record, 7-8-10

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